The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, commonly known as the Duomo of Florence, is one of the most famous churches in Italy and the world. When it was completed, in the 15th century, it was the largest church in the world, while today is the third in Europe, after Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome and the Cathedral of the Nativity of Saint Mary in Milan.
In 1294, the government of Florence ordered the construction of a new cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore (Saint Mary of the Flower), on the site of the city’s second cathedral dedicated to Santa Reparata. In 1296, the architect Arnolfo di Cambio was comissioned to design the cathedral, but he died only a few years later.
In 1334, Giotto di Bondone was appointed as the architect of the cathedral, and he started the building of the bell-tower. Three years later, Giotto died.
Starting with 1337, the construction was supervised by Andrea Pisano, until 1348, when the Black Death halted the works. Francesco Talenti, who took Pisano’s place in 1349, altered Arnolfo’s design, and completed the bell-tower in 1359. After 1366, Giovanni di Lapo Ghini joined him.
In 1420, Filippo Brunelleschi won the competition for building the cathedral’s dome. 16 years later, on March 25, 1436, the dome was completed, and the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore was consecrated by Pope Eugene IV.
The decoration of the exterior began in the 14th century, and it was completed only in 1887, by Emilio De Fabris, who designed the intricate facade, and Luigi del Moro.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore stands out for its monumental dimensions. The church has a length of 153 meters and a width of 38 meters. The height of the arches in the aisles is 23 meters, and the height of the dome is 114.5 meters.
Due to the long span of its execution, from the foundation to the 19th century completion, there are some considerable stylistic differences between its parts, but the Neo-Gothic facade built in red, white and green marble forms a harmonious ensemble together with the Giotto’s bell-tower and the Baptistery.
The three bronze doors, adorned with scenes from the life of the Madonna, date from a period between 1899 and 1903. The mosaics in the lunettes above the portals were designed by Niccolò Barabino. The pediment above the central portal contains a relief by Tito Sarrocchi.
On top of the facade, there is a series of niches with the twelve Apostles and the Madonna with Child in the middle. Between the rose window and the tympanum, there is a gallery with busts of great Florentine artists.
The Cathedral has a basilica plan, with three naves, divided by large composite pillars, and pointed vaults. The interior is rather simple and austere, with a polychrome marble floor designed by Baccio d’Agnolo. A balcony on corbels runs along the entire perimeter of the church.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is located in Piazza del Duomo, about 850 meters away from the Santa Maria Novella railway station. The closest bus stop is Studio, located about 30 meters away, on the bus Line C1.
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